After you register as a limited liability company (LLC), you might want to operate your business under a different name. This operational name, seen by your customers and the rest of the world, is your DBA, short for “Doing Business As.” In Florida, this is also referred to as a fictitious name. Even if you live in a different state, you can still file a DBA in Florida.
6 Steps to Filing a DBA in Florida
How does filing a DBA in Florida work? Registering a DBA in Florida is a relatively straightforward process, and it can be done entirely online. That's great for those who live out of state. The only unique step when filing a DBA in Florida is the publication requirement, explained in detail in the following section. Essentially, this requirement states that it is required you publish your DBA in a newspaper in the Florida county where your primary business is located.
By following the six steps listed below, you will have a Florida DBA.
1. Become a Foreign Entity
Before you get your Florida DBA, if you have an LLC in a different state, you'll need to be registered to do business in the state of Florida. This is accomplished by filing for a foreign LLC using the form called "Application for Authorization to Transact Business in Florida." You can file for a foreign qualification online, in person, or by mail.
Once registered, the state will send you a letter acknowledging that your foreign LLC is registered in Florida. Online filings will take up to four business days, while filings by mail can take up to five days. In-person filings happen on the same day. The cost of filing as a foreign LLC in the state of Florida is $100.
2. Decide on Your DBA Name
Choosing your DBA can be fun and exciting. You'll want to follow some guidelines to ensure you choose the best business name possible for your Florida DBA. For example, make sure your business name is simple and distinctive and uses meaningful and emotional words. Choose a business name that creates a mental image. The Incfile Business Name Generator is a great tool to help brainstorm DBA names.
It is your responsibility to make sure that nobody else is using your DBA name in the state of Florida. Florida actually requires that your DBA name be unique in the state, but it does not do the work for you. The easiest way to ensure your DBA name is not being used is to use Florida's Sunbiz Fictitious Name Search.
Remember that a DBA name will not provide you with any trademark protection. According to the Florida Department of State, "This registration does not reserve the name or prevent another party from registering the same name." If you would like to reserve the name or prevent another party from using the same name, you should consider investing in trademark protection for your DBA.
3. Publish Your DBA in a Newspaper
In Florida, you must publish your “legal notice of intent to file a fictitious name” in a newspaper in the county where your main business is located before you file your DBA. This is a requirement of the Florida Secretary of State. While you do not need to provide proof of publication when you file for your DBA, you will be asked on the honor system if you have published your DBA in the local newspaper.
Find out which newspaper serves the area where you will be doing business in Florida. Then, contact that newspaper to inquire about whether they have a template or a process for publishing a legal notice of intent to file a fictitious name. The newspaper can be a helpful resource as you complete this step of the process. We have provided more details on best practices for a "legal notice of intent to file a fictitious name" in the state of Florida below.
4. File Your DBA With the Florida Secretary of State
The fee for this is $50 and can be paid by check via mail or with a credit card online. You can request a Certificate of Status for an additional $10 or a certified copy for $30.
A Certificate of Status certifies the status and existence of the fictitious name registration and verifies the entity has paid all fees due to this office through a certain date. A certified copy will include a filed stamped copy of your Fictitious Name Registration and will verify that the copy is a true and correct copy of the document in our records.
5. Get Your Confirmation Letter
You'll get a confirmation email for your Florida DBA within 24 hours if you apply online. If you registered for a DBA name by mail, you'll get a confirmation letter by mail.
Note: Florida law requires out-of-state LLCs to register as foreign businesses before transacting business within the state. You must separately register in Florida as a foreign entity before doing business in the state.
More About the Publishing Requirement for Your Florida DBA
As mentioned above, one of the unique parts of the process for filing a DBA in Florida is the requirement to publish your DBA in a newspaper in the county where your primary business is located. Below is an example of this publication:
Many business owners will get put off by this requirement because it sounds overly complicated and time-consuming. However, the steps are relatively straightforward, and you only have to complete them once. Here's how to publish your legal notice in Florida:
Simply copy any legal notice language, such as what is written in the above example, and insert your fictitious name.
Next, find a newspaper in the county where you will be doing business in Florida.
Submit your legal notice to the newspaper via email, and wait for it to be published.
You cannot register a fictitious business name in the state of Florida without first publishing this notice. On the DBA registration form, you will be asked whether you have published this notice, and while you do not have to provide proof, you must answer accurately. You can find a complete list of requirements in Chapter 50 of the Florida statutes website.
Remember that it will take the newspaper anywhere between one and four weeks to publish your notice after you submit your request officially. Take this into account as you plan the timeline for filing your Florida DBA. You will want to wait until after the notice has been published to file your DBA officially.
How Much Does It Cost to File a DBA in Florida?
It will cost you $50 to file for your DBA in Florida. You will also have the option to purchase a certified copy of your registration for $30. If you live in a different state and intend to do business as a foreign entity in Florida, you will need to also complete your foreign qualification application and pay the fee, which can cost $100 or more.
You will also need to find a Registered Agent in Florida and file an annual report in the state after you register as a foreign entity. In addition to these costs, you might also need to pay for business permits and licenses, depending on what type of business you operate.
Can I Live in a Different State Than My LLC?
Yes, you can live in a state different from where your LLC is registered. When your LLC regularly conducts business in another state, you will need to register your LLC in that state.
While it is possible to live in a different state than your LLC, there can be complications involved, including the possibility of double taxation.
This brings up the topic of foreign versus domestic business, which in this case, does not refer to international business. When you operate a business in a state that is different from the one where you live, you have a foreign business entity, which means you must file a foreign qualification.
Can I File a DBA in a State Different Than My LLC?
Yes, you can register a DBA name in a different state than the one in which your LLC was incorporated. The process of filing for your fictitious business name can be done completely online, so you do not need to be present in the state of Florida to file your DBA there. You can provide an out-of-state business address in the paperwork. Just ensure that you have filed as a foreign entity before you do any business in the state of Florida.
DBA vs. LLC
An LLC is a legal business structure. An LLC is created to separate a business from its owner, thereby protecting the owner’s personal assets. The protection afforded by an LLC is its main draw. It means that if you own an LLC, your personal assets are protected from your creditors and any legal issues your LLC encounters. When you have an LLC, your business name is that of your LLC unless you file for a DBA.
A DBA is the business name you register as if you would like to conduct business under one that is different from your LLC name. A DBA does not give you liability protection. It functions only as the name you choose to do business under that is different from your LLC.
Note: When you register a DBA, you do not necessarily get exclusive rights to use your business name. A federally registered trademark will afford a higher level of protection for your business name.
Frequently Asked Questions About Florida DBAs
Why Do LLC Owners Want a DBA?
LLC owners may want to operate their business under a different business name for various reasons. Here are a few reasons why it may make sense to use a DBA name:
You are incorporating in multiple states under the same name, but you want your business name to reflect specific locations.
The products and services you provide have changed; thus, you want to update your business name.
Your legal business name is similar to your own name, but you want to do business under a different name for personal or privacy reasons.
You want a creative or unique business name.
Your bank requires an official DBA to open a business banking account.
You want to operate multiple businesses.
What Is Required for a DBA in Florida?
To register your DBA in Florida, you will need to have advertised your fictitious name in a local newspaper. Then, you will need to fill out your form online, or you can print, fill out, and mail the Application for Registration of a Fictitious Name. You will also need to pay $50 along with your form to register your fictitious name in the state of Florida. If your bank requires a separate DBA bank account, you will need to create one.
Before any of these steps, if you are filing a DBA from out-of-state, you will need to file for foreign qualification.
How Long Does It Take to File a DBA in Florida?
If you file online, you will receive a confirmation email within 24 hours. If you register by mail, it will take up to five business days to process, and you will receive your confirmation letter by mail. Remember, the entire process will be even longer because you must publish an intent to file in a local newspaper, which can take between one week and a month to accomplish.
Do I Need an EIN for a DBA in Florida?
No, you do not have to have a separate EIN for a DBA in Florida. However, you will need to have one if you plan on opening a new business bank account under your DBA name. Make sure to check if your bank requires a new business bank account for DBAs.
What Are the Rules for Naming a Florida DBA?
Do not include "LLC," "Inc," or "Corp" in the DBA unless the business is registered as that entity.
You cannot use any terms associated with financial institutions, including "bank," "trust company," "savings bank," "credit union," etc.
Your DBA must be unique among business names in Florida.
Can I Write Off Taxes for a DBA in Florida?
Having a DBA does not affect your taxes and does not provide any special tax benefits. While you don't have to register your DBA with the IRS, you will still need to report your DBA on your tax form.
Florida is an attractive state to do business in. Known for business-friendly tax incentives — including no state income tax — entrepreneurs often look to start their business in The Sunshine State. While you may live in a different state now, you can still bring your business to serve the demands of Florida's growing population by filing a DBA.
Incfile can help you file your DBA in no time. We can handle the paperwork, legal requirements, and timeline while you focus on your business.
Nicole Bowman is a freelance writer who thinks turning research into stories is the best gig ever. She started writing billboards back in 2002, worked in book publishing in New York for many years and now she creates all sorts of engaging content for the web. Nicole lives in Rehoboth Beach, DE, with her husband, two sons and their poodle, Tootsie. She loves the great outdoors, bookstores and tennis.